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Archive for the ‘Jesus Christ’ Category

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Psalm 130 is one of the songs the people of Israel would sing as they went up to Jerusalem to worship God in the three required festivals. Verses 3 and 4 say, If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You,
that You may be feared.”

When I read these two verses, I see…

God is absolutely holy. The Lord does indeed mark iniquities – He keeps an account of our sins. He is the only One who can both judge and remain standing. Why? He has no iniquities to mark. His holiness is absolute and perfect.

I am sinful. I know my sin and my sinfulness, saying with the apostle Paul that I am the chief of sinners. In the face of His absolute holiness, I know I cannot remain standing – only He can. No one will be able to survive the penetrating gaze of God’s perfect knowledge and judgment.

God forgives. By His sheer mercy and grace, God sovereignly chooses to forgive. He’s under no obligation to do so, but as the psalmist says, “there is forgiveness with You.” The foundation of God’s forgiveness, and what makes it possible, is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. He stood in our place and was judged for our sins and iniquities on the cross. Through faith in Christ alone, I know that my sins are forgiven.

God is to be feared. I know that the Lord’s forgiveness of my sins – which I do not deserve – should drive me to deeper reverence, greater awe, and a more holy dread of God. This is the holy One who lives in unapproachable light and who is more pure than I will ever comprehend, yet on the basis of Christ’s work on my behalf, forgives all of my iniquity! This is the One who is to be loved and feared!

That’s a beautiful song to sing.

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In our worship service yesterday, we sang Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty’s song “In Christ Alone.” It’s a song I think is destined to become a classic – the church will be singing it four hundred years from now, in other words. It’s theologically sound and weighty, as well as musically  excellent.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand. 

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live. 

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ. 

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand. 

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com) 

It’s my anthem because it reflects my thinking as a Christian. It’s who I am based on what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me and in me. To Him be all the glory!

It’s our anthem as the church of Jesus Christ for the very same reason. It’s who we are based on what He’s done for us and in us. In Him alone we live and stand. To Him be the glory!

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In the process of looking through a box of papers (I was trying to fond something to use in one of my classes), I ran across an article by Wayne Mack called “The Bible’s Answer to the Question: “What is A Christian?”

In short, here is his answer:

  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh and the only Savior and substitute of sinners.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mack’s use of Scripture in answering the question is especially important. If we were to ask ten people “What is a Christian?”, we’d most likely get five or six different answers, he says. The only answer that ultimately matters is God’s, and we find it in His Word.

So, using the Bible’s definition, are you a Christian?

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Mitch Lamotte preach on 1 John 1:1-10.  Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Faith in Jesus Christ produces fellowship with God and forgiveness from sin.

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Open-my-eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).

The psalmist asks God to open His eyes (which only He can) so that he might see the wonderful, or wondrous, things that are contained within His law.

For those with eyes whom God has graciously and sovereignly opened, we see His power, sovereignty, holiness, mercy,  justice, and goodness to name just a few. We hear His promises and see them fulfilled. All of them are wonderful and wondrous.

But it’s possible that the most wonderful thing we behold – not spelled out specifically in chapter and verse, but clearly taught by the whole of Scripture – is the truth of God’s covenant with man.

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary on condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
  2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and to him in his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
  3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

(Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraphs 1-3)

One of the most wondrous things in God’s Word is His gracious condescension to save a people for Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, and He does that by means of His covenant. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t, and could never, earn it through our own efforts. We deserve the opposite of what God gives. Praise God for His grace!

May God open our eyes that we might see His covenants – a wondrous thing!

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Contemporary Evangelicals need to rediscover the wisdom of the catechisms which were written during the Reformation. The theology found in them is rich, pastoral, and thoroughly biblical. As a church, we’re poorer because of our neglect of them. Here is a little bit of that wisdom:

Question #60

Q – How are you right before God?

A – Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ;

so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them,

and am still inclined to all evil;

notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine,

but only of mere grace,

grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ,

even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me;

inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

“How can I be right before God?” is the most important that anyone will ever ask. Our destinies depend upon it, and the Heidelberg Catechism gives us a brief answer of what is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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Grace – God’s unmerited and undeserved favor – is amazing in more ways than we normally think. Titus 2:11-14 illustrates it: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” 

“The grace of God has appeared” (verse 11) in the person of Jesus Christ. That grace brought “salvation.” God saves us by His grace and we praise Him for it! He opened our eyes when we were spiritually blind; He opened our spiritually deaf ears; and He gave us a heart of flesh in exchange for the heart of stone each of us have by nature – and He did all of this by His grace! We didn’t deserve it, couldn’t earn it, and, in fact, deserve the exact opposite.

Everyone who has repented of their sin and has believed in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation did so solely because of God’s grace. We’ve been redeemed by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. But does that give us a “get out of jail card free card” with respect to our behavior and conduct as a Christian? Can we live any way we want because we’re saved by grace?

No, it doesn’t and no, we can’t! Still on the subject of “the grace of God” from verse 11, verse 12 begins with the phrase “instructing us.” The grace of God not only saves us, but instructs us (or teaches, disciplines, trains us). To what end? Grace instructs us “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” In other words, grace doesn’t softly whisper in your ear to go ahead and indulge yourself because God doesn’t really care anymore; rather grace teaches us, trains us, and disciplines us to say no to ungodliness and yes to godliness. While we’re at it, we await the second coming of “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (verse 13), who “redeemed us from every lawless deed” on the negative side, and is purifying “for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (verse 14). By His grace, God has redeemed us “from every lawless deed” and “for good deeds.” God is just as concerned with our birth (justification) as He is with our growth (sanctification).

God’s grace is truly amazing – through it we’re saved, taught, empowered, and changed!

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